Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Election In Nigeria; A Do Or Die Affair


The stage is set for power tussle between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive congress (APC) come March 28, 2015. Elections in Nigeria have mostly been associated with violence and mass rigging since 1999.

Analysts are of the opinion that the major problem with the country’s electoral process is the will to hold on power at all cost regardless of who gets hurt in the process.

This year, 2015, will be among the most politically active in Nigeria’s modern history. Expectations are already high in the Nigerian polity and beyond, justifiably so, because the year will feature a cluster of activities leading up to the 2015 general elections. These elections, obviously, will be keenly contested.

Ideally, the election season should be a political celebration of sorts – a celebration of the Nigerian democracy in the manner that Americans describe their election season as ‘a celebration of American democracy’. But the reality we live with is a political environment unduly charged by the desperation of partisan gladiators.

The attitude of politicians during political campaigns so far is one that can best be described as shameful; they parade themselves in a way that leaves a big question mark on their integrity, dignity and ability to lead the people they beg for their votes.

Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo once stated that “Peoples Democratic Party will surely produce the next president no matter the hurdles.” With this, one can easily deduce that the election was a charade because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has been tailored in favour of the PDP candidate despite the lack of competence in combating issues of national interest and concern.

In this regard, the duty of the electoral body is to present the favoured candidate of the ruling party PDP, as Obasanjo had then boasted.

In recent times, politicians throw caution to the wind as they trade words with reckless abandon.

APC National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed and the PDP, have mostly been engaged in a war of words in the media.

Some politicians make inciting statements that are capable of tearing the country apart in the name of campaign, while some of them who have lost their shame engage in physical combats.

The saying that ‘when two elephant fight, it is the grass that suffers’ best describes the situation. The masses are always at the receiving end, as the ruling party and opposition party meet on the election field. Party members are constantly at war with the each other.

Many point accusing fingers at most of the religious leaders who are now praise singers of the politicians, ignoring their vows and responsibility to the people by preaching the gospel of encomium on politicians. This new turn of event has added more salt to the injury as there is no one to strengthen the moral character of a credible election.

As manifested in the series of elections held in the Forth Republic, INEC seems to have always jilted the electorate by playing the script of its employer.

In this year’s election, the incumbent president will be facing a strong opposition and if Nigeria will still be Nigeria after March 28, 2015, first, there is need for the INEC to hold a credible election at all cost.

This means that the mode of appointment and its funding must change. The National Assembly should legislate through a bill empowering the judiciary to appoint members into the board of INEC, people that are non- partisan with unquestionable character.

Also, it will help if all elected officials should step aside three months or at most two months to the period of the general elections. This will also go a long way in solving the problem of intimidating any Resident Electoral Commissioners (REC) from doing a thorough job of conducting a free and fair election.

There is also the need for all political parties to draw up sections/laws to discipline any member who makes careless statements; these sanctions must be enforced to ensure compliance.

Nigerians have a role to play and the responsibility is shouldered on them to determine who wins the elections but this will not happen if they don’t vote for the right candidate. They must shun thuggery and any form of violence, regardless the pressure.

With some of these points put in practice, Nigeria will be a better place for everyone.